Peer Recommendation: Online Course Tools

online course tools
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We know you’re the special sauce that makes your course unique, personal, and exactly what your students need to feel supported and engaged in the learning process.  In a virtual environment, engaging with students can be so much easier when you have the right tools to succeed. Explore these helpful online course tools recommended by your peers.

Video Recording & Conferencing Tools

It’s no secret that using videos in your classroom can have a powerful impact on teaching and learning, especially in the transition to online education. Below is a list of online course tools that you can use to quickly create and edit videos.

  • TechSmith Capture (Formerly Jing) is a free easy-to-use tool that allows you to create basic screenshots, screen recordings and quick videos and share them with others. Note that Jing has a five-minute time limit as it is intended for short, fast communication; not long tutorials or presentations.
  • Screencast-O-Matic is another free video recording tool that is a good resource for longer videos as it gives you a fifteen minutes of recording time. Check out this beginner’s guide.
  • Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing tool where you can host calls with others. Zoom is great for recording your online lesson, scheduling group work and hosting online office hours. Check out these tips and tricks for teachers educating on Zoom. Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. One thing to remember is that you have a 40-minute time limit on Zoom calls with three or more total participants if you choose the free option.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint also allows you to record narration for each slide. Check out this step-by-step guide for detailed information. After you record your lectures, you can export them as a video file to post them on your personal YouTube channel, upload them to your LMS or your WebAssign resources.

Expert Video Tips

As you explore using video in your online course, keep in mind these tips:

  • You can upload your videos to WebAssign assignments, learn how here.
  • Plug your earbuds into your computer and lay them in front of you to optimize sound quality while giving you option to move away from your camera.
  • Use extra textbooks to elevate your computer to ensure you are centered in the camera view and looking straight ahead.
  • Record short videos (resolution of 720p or less) to optimize the viewing experience on mobile devices.
  • Don’t expect perfection! Keep it real.

Communication Tools

Communication technologies gain importance in an online environment as they help teachers like yourself stay connected with your students and make the learning process easier and more fun. Take a look at this online course tool for communication:

  • Remind is a communication platform that allows you to stay in contact with students via text messages. It also allows you to create 10 classes for free. It’s a great way to keep organized and helps you stay in touch with your students in real time.

Graphic Tablets and Smartpens

Digital drawing tablets and smart pens make it easy to explain concepts visually, encourage collaboration, and support flipped and distance learning programs. Here’s a few online course tools you might want to explore:

  • Graphic tablets (or “pen tablets”) allow you to draw by hand, capturing an image or graphic in digital form. The monitor of a connected PC or Mac then displays the information. It might take a couple of minutes to get used to, but once you have, it can make teaching easier. A few brands that you can explore are Wacom and XP-Pen.
  • Smartpen is a high-tech writing tool that records spoken words and synchronizes them with notes written on special paper. You can record your lecture or practice problems and email them to your students or post it to your online course. Check out a list of the best smart pens for 2020.

Note-taking Tools

Do you remember the times when you were looking for that sticky with lecture notes? While it can still work for you, you might enjoy a new way of organizing your materials and sharing them with your students:

  • OneNote by Microsoft is a free digital version of a notebook. Instructors can use OneNote to organize lesson plans in searchable digital notebooks, insert pictures, annotate anything with digital ink, and even record voice notes for students to review later. Take a look at the best uses for OneNote in the classroom.
  • Notability is a note-taking and PDF annotation tool that can be used to create lecture notes and other classroom materials. Notability for iPad can also be used to annotate PDF documents, such as student assignments and PDF forms. Please note that this app is available for Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac and cost varies depending on your device.
  • MathType is an interactive equation software that lets you create and annotate math notation for word processing, desktop publishing, presentations, eLearning, and more. You can use this tool to prepare examinations for your mainstream students, and then provide an electronic copy of the Microsoft Word document to your physically disabled or low vision students for them to edit electronically using MathType’s accessibility features. Annual fees vary.
  • Snipping Tool is a handy app included with Windows that allows you to take screenshots of your computer screen and make notes on the image. Snipping tool is perfect for taking screenshots of an image and inserting them in OneNote. Please keep in mind that Snipping tool is only included with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

Once you’ve captured your notes, be sure to upload them to WebAssign for students. Get tips here on uploading files to your WebAssign resources.


Looking for More Tips?

Keep in mind the following resources that are available to you.